Monday, November 21, 2011

Anniversary Weekend

Mr. Musky and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last Saturday with a weekend trip that exceeded our expectations,  starting off with a two hour drive south past innumerable farms while watching a beautiful sunset.
Saturday we kicked the morning off where we first met over 20 years ago. I am forever grateful to my big brother, who scored me a fake ID so I wouldn't have to sit home alone in my dorm room on my first day of college.

Oh - and for introducing me to a certain someone at one of the oldest drinking establishments on campus.
But not the oldest. My father saw me throw back my first beer at the distinguished Illini Inn. He claims it was a bit difficult. Wonder why it's not an issue now?

Kappa Sigma's looking good. On the outside, at least.

And the Pi Phis are as sweet as ever. So is this edifice I called home for three years. We are brave, we are bold...I know some of you know the rest, but I'll leave that out for now.
On to the tailgate party, where we were honored and priveliged to celebrate another milestone - our friends' father's 70th birthday. The brightest of this fabulous family is loyal to our beloved Alma Mater, but others hail from some other school situated north of the state line. And the Birthday Boy remains impartial, at least in terms of the shirt he dons.

These parents are among the best I've ever known. It was such a treat to celebrate with them.
Their kids are a riot...
...and their extended family just flat out rocks.

Our kids had a blast the entire weekend, and proudly represented the Orange and Blue. With a little red and black mixed in.
Thank Goodness they had a little help from Mr. Musky's cousin, who is a sophomore, and some of his friends.
As game time approached, we giggled at the Camp Randall Jump Around efforts. Or at older sisters who can still beat up little brothers without punishment from Mom and Dad.


Followed by the a message from the smart little brother to his Badger relatives.
Mr. Musky roomed with this gem his senior year, and the stories are numerous, outrageous and hysterical. We enjoyed digging some of them out of the vault over the weekend.

On to the game, which was every bit as fun as it was when we were undergrads.

Surprise - another fraternity brother walking into Memorial Stadium!
Um...yeah. Our seats were never this great when we were poor college students.
Coach Zook. Should he stay or should he go?
Great way to show that Illini spirit.
I still get goosebumps listening to the Three in One and will go to my grave saying there is nothing better than singing Hail to the Orange linked arm-in-arm with your comrades at halftime. But it just is not the same without Chief Illiniwek.
 
Thanks again, Brother Bear, for paving the way for me at the University of Illinois and for introducing me to your punky, younger friend. 

I'm off to bed to enjoy a day I've been looking forward to since October when that aforementioned Match Maker announced that his family would be flying in for Thanksgiving this year. I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a story or two to report after paying homage to the Turkey later today.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I am truly grateful for every one of you who read my nonsense.

XO,
Jen


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snowmobiling Mamas

Most definitely, there needs to be another girls weekend at the cabin.  One of the winter varietal.


We could channel our inner Sacajawea, snowshoeing through the tundra to our destinies with the beautiful Star (aka doggie below) as our guide.
I'm sure Drunk Lady Beach is just as much fun in winter as in summer. Ice Hole would help.
We could transform ourselves into greek goddesses, drinking in the nectar of the gods from Botas.
Or have squat contests while balancing champagne glasses on party horns.
Rather than consuming the weight of a small child in dip noshing, we could actually visit a local supper club for a respectable meal.
Then provide unparalleled entertainment on horse-drawn sleigh rides through the woods at no additional charge for the customers. 
We could always plow through the trails on vintage snowmobiles turning heads everywhere with our stunning beauty and headgear.
Or hit the slopes, attempting to maintain the integrity of all our limbs.
Shoot, I could even make a gorilla appear out of nowhere bearing bedtime pina coladas and cookies.


Yes, there most definitely should be a winter version of Sugar Camp Girls Gone Wild.


You in?


Happy Friday, people!


XO,
Jen

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Feeling Stupid, and Shenanigan #4

Since I left my job I oftentimes feel, in a single word, Stupid.

Let me first set the stage. Before my last day, there was a significant degree of synching and transferring of files, contacts, and calendar entries from my work PC to my Mac. At the same time, we upgraded the software on all of our home computers, not to mention Apple's latest software version for the beloved iPhone. All of which combined results in a maddening hindrance as I attempt to shift the focus in my cranium from the left side to the right to approach my new career.

Here's the problem - when it comes to mastering products displaying a minimalist little apple missing a chunk, I might as well be dropped into the middle of Shanghai and told to get home. It took me about a month to use my fingertips vs. nails on the iPhone. I allow new software to sit for a year on my desk, petrified that I won't know how to install the crap let alone effectively master it once it resides on my machine, despite my eleven-year-old's incessant, incredulous remarks and blank stares. I acknowledge these technical shortcomings, so I happily turned all things Mac over to Mr. Musky. He graciously provides me with daily updates, such as: "I put your calendar on iCloud, so now all of your devices will be synched up, regardless of where you enter the event."

I just stare back at him in grateful, stunned silence, convinced yet again that I chose the perfect life-partner.

As I type this on the Sunday morning after we fell back on our clocks, I realize that for some inexplicable computer-nerd reason, the clock on my MacBook is not displaying the right time. It's not off by an hour, but by merely 20 minutes. Mr. Musky very confidently advises me that I don't have it set up correctly and do I want him to fix it for me?

No. I do not want him to fix it for me. Surely I can figure out how to set the correct time on an electronic device. Or can I? After receiving an upgrade to my digital camera this summer, I wondered why the debaucheries of girls weekend were found snuggled between images of my daughter's second birthday and my son as a cuddly infant. Eventually I realized that the clock was never configured, which took me a few days and several references to the 400 page user manual to remedy.

So given my success with the camera, I most certainly can fix the Mac. I thoughtfully consider which icon to choose for clock settings. While Dashboard contains a clock but doesn't appear to provide a way to set it, I click on the next logical choice. System Preferences.

30 icons stare back at me.

How on God's Green Earth am I supposed to choose the right one to change the time on my bloody clock?

I graze over them all for several minutes. Again, my lovely husband is lazily relaxing on the couch with no idea what I'm trying to do. He would impatiently have resolved the issue immediately.

First choice - after something in the depths of my long-term memory whisper to me that Time Machine really has nothing to do with today's time and date, I select General. Seems reasonable, and generic enough. General proves to include all sorts of groovy things to do with your machine...but alas, I hear the Family Feud Buzzer and see a big red X on the screen in front of me.

Guess again. Sheesh. Two more strikes before managing something each of my children could have accomplished at the age of three in no less than thirty seconds.

Mail, contacts and calendar? Nah, seems too specific. Mission Control? Yep, that's gotta be it. I open Mission Control, because space travel certainly requires the right time and date.

BUZZZZ...strike two. No...that would be the controller of the nifty "corner" doodad thing that Mr. Musky so helpfully installed that still freaks me out when I move the cursor to the upper lefthand corner and all my work vanishes. I begin sweating under my pits and tasting bile in my mouth because I'm not an adept computer user, and I flashback to my Senior year in college when I had to race to the Beckman Institute to beg a computer wizard to find my final paper on a floppy disc because everything crashed and I was going to fail my class requiring a fifth year of education I had no way of paying for and if he could just recall my work I would be forever grateful and...HE DID!  I breathlessly kissed him on his stunned face and told him he saved my life and ran off to go print the damned thing and graduate.

Anxiety builds. It's been over 10 minutes, and between looking at that foreign language otherwise known as System Preferences and schizophrenically worrying about asking my fifty thousandth moronic computer question, I still have the incorrect time on my machine.  I take a deep breath, knowing that I absolutely do not want Mr. Musky to walk over here and fix this sophomoric problem with one click of the mouse.  I look at the loathsome icons again.

AH - DATE AND TIME!

Duh. This is just one example of about 3492 ways that I've felt completely imbecilic and incapable over the past four weeks. How am I supposed to pursue a career relying on a Mac when I can't understand the new software, the 'hot corners' leave me with a fight or flight response every time I lose my work, two instances for every calendar entry madly appear on the screen, and AM mystically replaces PM for those duplicate calendar entries?  Like I'm really going to be driving to clarinet lessons at 3:00 AM.  Not to mention the fact that I almost missed those clarinet lessons and DID miss a child's dental appointment the first week I no longer lived by a schedule previously ruled by 7:00 am conference calls followed by back-to-back meetings morphing into evening dinners with clients and co-workers. A schedule that I never, ever flubbed up.

All of this fretfulness left me wondering. Am I truly stupid? Did I make the wrong choice?

One of the things that I have not botched in this past month is some serious make-up sessions with my kitchen. I'm rocking out numerous dishes, including fried chicken, sausage and roasted red pepper soup, pumpkin bars, homemade gyros with tzaziki sauce (OK - Mr. Musky helped on that one), cheddar-chive-bacon-buttermilk biscuits from scratch, perfectly roasted and seasoned rack of lamb, and I could go on and on and on. The beauty of all this cooking? Our family is dining, at home, with a prayer before digging in, for 95% of the evenings since I left my job. We're engaging in enlightening conversation, laughing daily and growing closer over the dinners I'm pouring my passion into.

While feeling extraordinarily doltish one afternoon for not being able to figure out how to simply fetch a photo from Aperture and load it back onto an SD card, I retreat to where I'm more intellectually adept to prepare dinner. I physically relax as I sip on a glass of vino, start chopping the trinity, smiling as I move to garlic. The garlic alone, once smashed and releasing its aroma..takes me back to...

...I pause mid-chop, put down my chef's knife, empowered with another significant revelation for The Shenanigans of Boys. Mr. Musky rarely displays this brainlessness with which I've become so obsessed. In fact, he seems to know something about most everything - at least enough to make him appear knowledgable on any subject. I quickly scan my memory over his two closest friends. Yep - neither of them ever appear stupid...on the surface.

Shenanigan #4 - Boys treat areas where they possess lessened intelligence like the plague to make it seem as though they are intellectually superior; however, they eventually botch something up and when they do, it's on a colossal scale.

Exhibit 1 - As newlyweds, Mr. Musky and I mistakenly assumed that garlic was the end-all, be-all spice. We used it in every dish we cooked. We even walked miles in San Francisco once to visit the Stinking Rose Restaurant where garlic stars in every menu item. We love the bulbous herb so much that Mr. Musky once tried his hand at Garlic Soup. The recipe called for pureeing the soup to ensure the proper consistency. My brilliant, tech savvy husband dumped the soup into the blender, popped on the lid and jabbed "ice crush" figuring that a velocity of 240 miles per hour would most effectively pulverize the concoction for quickest consumption.

What he failed to recognize is that PV=nRT, where:

P is the pressure of the gas,
V is the volume it occupies,
n is the amount of gas there is,
R is a scientific constant, and
T is the temperature of the gas in degrees Kelvin

The lid of the blender rocketed to the ceiling and the steamy soup sprayed over every square inch of the kitchen. He claims he was most agitated that we had to order out, but I think he felt sheepish for not recalling a most basic Chemistry lesson. And for having to mop up on an empty stomach.

But at least he can still catch fish.


Exhibit 2 - one of Mr. Musky's fishing buddies, the world's most competent Boy Scout Poster Child, is always prepared for anything. He's the person you want with you if you ever have a real-life Survivor challenge, because a small army can survive out of the contents of his backpack for months. I can honestly say that I've never seen him commit a significant blunder. I almost always feel intellectually inferior around him, but now come to think of it, we rarely discuss literature. Maybe I'd school him there. Or perhaps in a karaoke competition. But definitely not in the aforementioned science lesson, and certainly not in corporate consulting on technical applications that catapult an organization ahead of their competition.

I may beat him when it comes to cleaning though. Especially a fireplace. See, this dear friend went to clean out the fireplace of his newly purchased home for the first time, and the conniving ShopVac didn't cooperate. When he pressed the power button, ash from the fireplace careened all over his beautiful, kid-free, pristine family room, into his facial cavities, down his lungs and all over the rest of his body and the first floor of his model home. The Boy Scout forgot the simplest rule of Shop Vac use - when capturing debris vs. moving it, use suck, not blow.

That's ok.  He's still a good Boy Scout, and can catch muskies with the best of them.


Exhibit 3 - the Moby Dick of Mr. Musky's friends, who can school any other human on wine parings, consumption, origin, complexity, history, etc. He'll inquire about every course of a dinner party to insure the proper wine is served. He's in his element on Boys Week at the cabin because fishing is Moby's other great passion in life. He's the most intransigent angler I know, abandons his family on vacations to become one with the sea much to his wife's chagrin, and would fish with a cane pole outfitted with a dough ball if he had to.

All geeked up on the first day of fishing a few years ago, this scene proved just too much for Moby.

Not able to contain his excitement, Moby ventured onto the dock as the sun rose for a head start on the day's activities, launching a few casts while Mr. Musky and the Boy Scout lingered over  coffee. About to ready himself for the day, Mr. Musky paused at the big sliding glass door to drink in the serenity of the lake while checking up on Moby's morning luck. What he saw next about made him spit out his coffee and gesticulate to Boy Scout to join in viewing the ridiculousness playing out below. Moby inexplicably dropped his rod and reel into the lake. Incredulous, Mr. Musky and Boy Scout shook in relentless laughter at their good friend's misfortune. They then rolled with uncontrollable guffaws as Moby lay down on his belly, reaching for that rod....reaching.....reaching....

...only to roll right off the dock into the lake. The very chilly 40 degree lake with every last ounce of his cold-weather fishing gear attached to his body.

Ah...such passion. All for a little bit of this - certainly not his personal best as recorded here, but the prettiest one, in my opinion.

Again, I've never seen Mr. Moby do anything so foolish. Shoot - he rarely talks - confirming my suspicions about Shenanigan #4. If a boy isn't the expert on the subject, he remains silent to avoid appearing a dimwit.

Moby and Boy Scout and Mr. Musky - I'd like to personally thank each of you. For making me feel better about myself if only for a blissful moment in my cozy kitchen while your hysterical stories remind me that we are all stupid once in awhile.

Now I gotta run to figure out some Photoshop software...see you next year...maybe.

XOXO,
Jen